Health

April 18, 2024

Radiographers demand tax relief on bras

Radiographers demand tax relief on bras

By Sola Ogundipe

Citing women’s health concerns, radiographers are pushing for an exemption from Value Added Tax VAT.

The demand comes from delegates at the annual conference of the Society of Radiographers in Leeds who argue that  tax unfairly burdens women and could be considered discriminatory under the Equality Act.

The Society of Radiographers, representing professionals who perform X-rays, MRIs, and CT scans, liken bras to menstrual products as a necessity that should not be subject to VAT.

Emphasizing the importance of a properly fitted bra, they cite resources recommending regular bra size checks, proper support for larger cup sizes, and the use of professional fitting services. These measures, they argue, can alleviate back, shoulder, and neck pain commonly experienced by women.

According to a Society spokesperson, while not directly causing health conditions, poorly fitted bras, especially for larger cup sizes, can contribute to musculoskeletal problems such as  backaches, shoulder aches, and neck pain as common complaints among women wearing bras size D or above.

“A well-fitting bra not only promotes comfort but also contributes to good posture. We believe that proper bra support is just as essential for women’s health as menstrual products, and therefore shouldn’t be subject to VAT.

“A good-quality, well-fitting bra can alleviate these issues potentially reducing sick leave due to musculoskeletal problems,” the spokesperson continued, noting that the initiative emphasizes the ongoing debate over the affordability and accessibility of essential women’s health items.

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VAT on period pants was removed in January, following a two-year campaign by brands, retailers, women’s groups, and environmentalists that began in 2021, when the so-called ‘tampon tax’ was removed from other period products such as pads, tampons, and menstrual cups.

Period pants, which are designed to be worn instead of tampons and sanitary towels, were still subject to a 20 percent tax because they were classified as garments.

Women who have undergone breast cancer surgery, from a mastectomy, partial mastectomy, or lumpectomy, are exempt from VAT when purchasing certain bras.

A leading expert in breast biomechanics and health at the University of Portsmouth, Professor Joanna Wakefield-Scurr, highlighted some sports bras now cost over £100 and said the proposal is a great idea.

“It is vital that women wear appropriate breast support on a daily basis to protect the health of their breasts, additionally it is even more important in sporting situations where the G forces acting on the breasts can be greater than that experienced by an F1 driver.

“I think the high cost with the addition of VAT may prevent women from purchasing appropriate bras and it may also make women more reluctant to replace their bras regularly.”

An HM Treasury spokesperson said: “Bras worn by women recovering from breast-cancer surgery are already exempt but VAT does apply to most goods and services, generating funding for the country’s public services.”

While there are no definitive health benefits to wearing bras, comfort and practical advantages depending on breast size, activity level, and personal preference are major factors.

A well-fitting bra can provide support and reduce bouncing and strain on the ligaments that support the breasts. This can minimize pain and discomfort, especially during exercise.

In addition to being a confidence booster for some women some bras can improve posture by indirectly taking some strain off the back and shoulders. After breast surgery or procedures, a properly fitted bra can be crucial for comfort and healing by providing gentle compression and support.